Off The Beaten Cart Path
Farmersville, TX

Texas Golf by Jason Stone

Not far from McKinney, but not totally established yet as a Dallas-Fort Worth commuter community, Farmersville (elevation 651, population 3,118) is a quiet little town with quaint shops and historic buildings, and just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of Dallas to go unnoticed. In its early days, Farmersville was a railroad shipping point for cattle and cotton. Dallas will grow here eventually, but for now it's just a great little spot for the always-needed golf day trip at the immensely entertaining Leatherwood Ranch Golf Course.

The golf Cal Merritt, a former real estate man, grabbed this 40-acre farm and rock quarry when times were good back before the real-estate crash in the late 1980s. The upkeep was a problem and he wasn't convinced that he was a cattle rancher, so following his passion for golf and building a golf course seemed like the perfect way to have some fun and make the place look pretty.

He's definitely succeeded with his new, self-architected Leatherwood Ranch golf course, which opened for play in 1999. Here you can escape the city, avoid the crowds, and play for a fraction of what the big city courses charge ($22 for 18 holes with cart on weekends). The Dallas Morning News ranked Leatherwood as the 9th best 9-hole course in the state, and Leatherwood will surely grow in popularity over the years as the metroplex spreads and golfers find out about this little gem

The design is impressively clever. It features 9 holes made up of seven par 4s and two par 3s, highlighted by small, dome-shaped greens that are extremely firm. A creek that comes into play several times and a big rock quarry both add character to the layout. The quarry comes into play on the signature hole, No. 7, which offers the risk-reward option of hitting over the quarry or laying up.

There are no bunkers, but water comes into play quite a bit. The creek comes into play on holes 1-4. No. 6 has water on the left, and hole 8 sets up perfectly for a bad slice into the water. The hardest hole is the par 4 No. 9 because of its 334-yard length.

The best part about the day at Leatherwood is the casual, laid-back atmosphere. As Mr. Merritt states, "Blue jeans are expected." His theory that "denim is one of the most practical pairs of pants to play golf in" is something that all of us country club pretty boys might want to consider every now and then.

The details 972-784-7338. 607 E. Hwy 380, Farmersville, TX " 1999. Cal Merritt. Par 34. Back -2,119 yards. Forward -1,648 yards. Price - $22 for 18 holes with cart on weekends.

Getting there Drive I-75 to 380 in McKinney, go east 18 miles. The course is just past the Dairy Queen on the north side.

NOTES Consider a post-round beer in Leatherwood's grill, which is cozy, overlooks the golf course, and is run by the attractive, vibrant daughter of the Merritt's. You'll enjoy the regulars as they partake in post-round revelry that includes cold beers and karaoke. The grill offers hamburgers and hot dogs on the weekends, along with homemade desserts. For dinner, there is the all-you-can-eat Catfish Heaven (972-734-1960; 311 E. Princeton Dr.) on the way home in Princeton, or you can head to Lake Lavon and find The Cove Bait & Tackle (972-784-8944; 116 E. Hwy 380). Loaded with fishing photos from the lake, it's a good spot with local flavor for a deli sandwich and cold drink.

Jason Stone is the author of The Texas Golf Bible, an 800-page golf-travel book that covers over 900 courses and 430 Texas towns - the perfect inspiration for filling up the ice chest, spreading out the maps, throwing the clubs in the back of the truck, and heading down the road for a golf adventure. For more information visit, or call 866-357-2122 to get your copy today.

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